The perpetrator of the Alexandria attack is responsible for his own behavior. However, nothing we say or do exists in a vacuum — our words and actions reverberate into society and impact others.
It is time for America to take a major time out and engage in some serious introspection.
People need to think: Has any of my rhetoric inflamed tensions, creating a fertile environment for the unhinged to feel justified in their violent actions?
A freaky coincidence?
Yesterday (before the tragedy) I direct messaged a pal on Twitter. I was referring to the incitement of violence from Trump opposition:
“I’m praying we can survive what the left is doing. But I am afraid it will take some major tragedy before they realize their agenda is wrong.”
One could argue I was merely making a logical argument based on causation. And my timing is mere coincidence. Maybe or maybe not.
If anyone is wondering about my horse in the race: I’m a right leaning political independent (aligned with GOP). I did not vote for Trump in the primary nor the general election. I’m a constitutionalist and also a social moderate (e.g. support marriage equality).
I grew up in a New York liberal Democrat family — so I really do understand those with whom I now disagree.
Although I did not vote for Trump, I respect the results of the election. I want our president to succeed. I will support President Trump and will be critical of him as well.
Where does America go from here?
Everyone should embrace the fact that we are all Americans. We have a shared fate — it’s a very dangerous world out there.
We need to start listening to one another. We need to try to understand different points of view other than our own and those in our echo chambers of agreement.
A message for President Trump
You must set the tone for calm rational debate within the body politic. It might be a good idea to invite Democrat and Republican legislative leaders to the White House to discuss diffusing the current tensions.
Out of such a meeting a joint legislative agenda would be helpful. For example, it would help if you could get Democrats to agree to help the Republicans to fix our failed healthcare system.
This would send a powerful message to the American public that the election is really over and that our government cares about the people it was elected to faithfully serve. Shared ideas between Democrats and Republicans will solve the healthcare problem.
A message for Special Counsel Robert Mueller
Rather than seek prosecutions of Democrats and Republicans — offer a creative solution to help heal our nation:
Offer immunity to all who have may have violated the law in exchange for truthful testimony at a public hearing as to exactly what happened preceding and following the election. Catharsis can heal all Americans.
A message for Legacy Media
You may feel justified in your all out war against President Trump. But this is a perversion of the free press. Get back to the business of reporting news — not fabricating it for your political agenda.
You, the collective media, are fueling the rage of Trump opposition with the unrealistic notion that he will be impeached. Remember, precious lives are at stake. Avoid words that further polarize the public.
A message for social media hubs like Twitter and Facebook
Remind your users that inciting violence violates your community standards. Take more aggressive actions than you have been against those who violate your policies.
A message for Trump supporters
Remember back when you were upset that Obama won the presidency? Try to understand the angst of Democrats. Take the high road in your interactions with Democrats — even if they get abrasive. Democrats are already on fire — don’t pour gasoline on them! Together we need to build a better future for the country.
A Message for Democrats and never-Trump conservatives
Disavow violent rhetoric and imagery like the infamous Kathy Griffin photo and mock executions of President Trump. Do not remain silent even if you feel somehow your anti-Trump political agenda is served by expressions of violence.
Itemize your concerns and offer realistic solutions. Banking on impeachment is not a realistic solution.
A message for Democrats
Accept the results of the election. Work towards regaining control of the House and Senate in 2018, and the White House in 2020. America has a political process — come up with better policies than the Republicans and make logical arguments to sway the electorate.
A message for Academia
Intolerance of dissent (e.g. conservative thought) on college campuses is further dividing America — embrace diversity, spirited debate and better prepare your students for the real world. We don’t all have to agree — another unrealistic expectation.
Give your students the tools (debate, exchange ideas, listening, collective solutions) to grow a thick skin to face the harsh realities of life. Coddling is not a sign of maturity.
Much of the violent expression we are witnessing is protected speech. But we as Americans, have a moral responsibility to our fellow citizens.
Let’s agree to disagree, debate passionately short of calling on violence as a solution. Our present political climate is not sustainable. If we don’t heed the warning of the Alexandria tragedy, then many more tragedies may follow…